Tories pose real threat to Selsdon Vale with ‘attack on nature’

Under threat from Tory proposals: Selsdon Vale and Forestdale’s leafy aspects could be destroyed by Conservative moves to scrap environmental protections

CROYDON COMMENTARY: The Prime Minister may have sacked her Chancellor and his replacement might have scrapped almost all of the Trussonomic financial policies announced just three weeks ago.
But, says PETER UNDERWOOD, pictured right, there’s no sign that the Tories will abandon their ‘assault on nature’

Under the cover of their disastrous Mini-Budget, the Conservatives also announced that they want to rip up the planning protections that prevent overdevelopment and, alongside a raft of other harmful measures, allow developers to build on our green spaces.

And while Prime Minister Liz Truss has performed some of the quickest U-turns in political history to help the financial markets, the Conservatives are still pushing ahead with their attack on nature.

When I say “attack on nature”, those aren’t my words.

That is the verdict of the RSPB: “Make no mistake, we are angry. This Government has today launched an attack on nature. We don’t use the words that follow lightly. We are entering uncharted territory.

“As of today… wildlife is facing one of the greatest threats it’s faced in decades. What the Government has proposed… tears up the most fundamental legal protections our remaining wildlife has. If they carry out their plans, nowhere will be safe.”

Environmental coalition: the RSPB and even the National Trust have hit out at Tory proposals

It was not just the RSPB. Joan Edwards, director of policy for The Wildlife Trusts, said the Conservatives’ policies will mean “polluters can get away with poisoning our rivers and countryside – even more than they are doing already. It also means ripping up the rules that protect our most important wildlife sites from damage.”

Hilary McGrady, of the National Trust, said that environmental protections are dismissed as “burdens” by the Conservatives, while investment and growth are pitted against nature and climate action.

So what has the Conservative government announced?

First, they have launched their “Investment Zones”. These areas cover huge parts of the country, including Croydon, where they say that they will be “liberalising planning frameworks to encourage rapid development”.

In other words, getting rid of the planning protections that local residents can use to prevent overdevelopment and building on our precious green spaces.

Second, the government has said they want to rip up the environmental protections introduced by the EU but without any plans to replace them with new protections. The Conservative manifesto promised “the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth”, but Ruth Chambers, a senior fellow at Greener UK, says thatt the planned removal of hundreds of laws protecting air quality, our rivers, wildlife and food standards would derail the government’s pledges and put public health at risk.

Like-minded: Liz Truss, now PM, with Croydon’s Tory Mayor, Jason Perry

Third, the Conservatives are withdrawing plans to help farmers to protect nature, with reports suggesting the Environmental Land Management Scheme, or ELMS, has been put on hold while a return to a Common Agricultural Policy-type payment per acre is expected. And which will break another specific Tory manifesto pledge.

Finally, Jacob Rees-Mogg is removing the restrictions that were imposed to stop fracking. Fracking is an incredibly inefficient and extremely damaging method of trying to extract fossil fuel from our countryside. Apart from the massive damage this will do to our green spaces, fracking is far less effective than building new renewable energy projects, it will do nothing to reduce energy bills and even the founder of one of the big fracking companies, Cuadrilla, is now saying it is not viable.

Before fracking was banned, there was a Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (No.245) that covered all of Croydon. I have asked local Conservatives if they would now support this licence being re-issued. Unsurprisingly, they have not replied.

Dodgy fracker: Tory minister Jacob Rees-Mogg

Bizarrely, in the Selsdon Vale and Forestdale by-election, the Conservative candidate claims on her leaflets that she will protect green spaces. Either she doesn’t know about her own party’s policies, or she doesn’t understand the effect they will have.

As someone who spends their working life caring for nature and who has campaigned to protect our green spaces for many years, you will not be surprised that I am completely against these Conservative policies.

I will stand with local residents to fight against plans to ruin our area and if I am elected as the councillor for Selsdon Vale and Forestdale in the by-election on November 3, I will make sure your views are heard on the Council.

Wherever you live, you can join the campaign to fight back against these proposals.

You can sign the Friends of the Earth petition against this attack on nature (just click here and fill in a simple form).

And you can use the RSPB website to write to your MP and let them know how you feel about these proposals.

Croydon Commentary is where our readers can offer their personal views about what matters to them in and around the borough. To submit an article for publication, just email us at inside.croydon@btinternet.com, or post your comment to an Inside Croydon article that has caught your attention


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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5 Responses to Tories pose real threat to Selsdon Vale with ‘attack on nature’

  1. Robert Smith says:

    More nonsense from Underwood. Croydon’s Tories are easily the most opposed to planning deregulation in our borough by a country mile. When Jenrick came up with his mess of a planning reform, Croydon’s Tories objected to their own government. Did Croydon Green’s even respond to the consultation?

    • Nonsense, Robert.

      Last Monday we were being told that Simon Clarke, the Levelling Up Secretary, was going to push for a flurry of housing development as part of the Tories’ “dash for growth”.

      This would include reducing barriers for developers in England by having a bonfire of “red tape” regulating housing development such as EU rules, affordable housing, nutrient pollution and biodiversity improvements.

      Clarke hasn’t been culled following the collapse of the Truss Cabinet, so presumably that policy, unlike Kwasi Kwarteng, hasn’t been ditched.

      What’s beyond doubt is that you Tories don’t care about nature.

      Instead of taking firm action against the mega-rich monopolistic foreign-owned firms that took over the water industry they privatised, your government legalised the dumping of sewage into our rivers and onto our beaches,

      Did any Croydon Tories notice, let alone object?

  2. George Wright says:

    It’s too easy to focus on who did or did not object to Jenrick and when. Surely the issue here is what the government is proposing right now and the adverse effect this is having on natural habitats, on climate change change and on human health.

    It is an issue for the whole of Croydon. When you consider how the huge number of monstrous tower blocks have sprouted up in the centre of the Borough, the need to jump on the bus and go to a green space and to have a ‘green lung’ around Croydon becomes more important than ever.

    It beggars belief that all this over development is for the benefit of local people. Those who try to distract attention from what is happening are those likely to have a vested interest, such as those who want to ‘concrete over Croydon’.

    Good luck to Peter Underwood.

  3. Lewis White says:

    Thanks to Peter Underwood for this timely reality check, and IC for hosting the article.

    Thanks also to the National Trust, Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, Woodland Trust and other respected bodies with a massive nationwide membership of caring Britons, for bringing their authority to the discussion. An authority starting 100 years ago in 2 cases, and 50 years minimum in 2 others.

    I won’t grace it with the word “debate” as there is no genuine conversation about such topics as”Enterprise Zones” and “Cutting the Red tape of Planning” or Fracking.

    On fracking, we should locally be very, very afraid of anything that might contaminate the chalk aquifer below us. Our fresh water supply depends totally on this.

    If water can soak downwards through the chalk, which is around 1000 feet thick in just a few years, it does not take a geolgical genius to work out that water contaminated by fracking chemicals, oil and dirty water to come upwards. Some boreholes in our area are already contaminated by former rubbish dumps, and industry, so cannot be used for water supply.

    Will Liz Truss say, in a few years, when the water supplied by local water companies has a funny oily smell and taste, “sorry–a mistake was made– your water supply is now full of nasties that can only be cleaned up using expensive chemicals” or just shrug and say “you can’t use the water any more” and walk away with a Government pension, maybe a seat in the Lords, and maybe a seat as a non-exec director on the board of a company that sells Chinese water purification systems ?

    As it is, the underground water levels are going down as more and more development happens in London. If rainfall continues to reduce (other than flash floods that run off into the sewers and rivers ) … we are looking at a diminishing fresh water resource.

    As to enterprise zones –does this hold out the propspect of some “foreign entrepreneur” who has just been sitting around waiting for some idiot to come along with promises of (even more) relaxed environmental standards so that they can set up a highly polluting business, make a good amount through other incentives, and then also walk away, leaving yet another derelict and polluted site. …… which would sit for years until a wiser government comes along and pays money–tax payers’ money of course– to reclaim the land.

    This country already has spent billions on reclaiming contaminated land that was polluted in the free enterprise Victorian era.

    To enable the concreting over yet more land, and contamination of land and water, and to facilitate the creation of fly-by night polluting enterprises benefits just a tiny few gambler-capitalists. Many thoughtful people might conclude that such action is an Environmental crime. It does nothing for long-term employment or heath of the Nation.

    As to Planning and Green Belt, any quick fixes are going to be the sort of “little boxes on the hilside ” type of developments plastered over the fair face of the remaining landscape. Easy wins.

    A repeat of non-places like Peacehaven and Biggin Hill ?

    Planning needs well-designed renewal of existing towns, suburbs and villages, plus where appriopriate, new settlements and town expansion– with a well-designed landscape, with proper transport infrastructure, recreational facilities, schools and services,to enhance communities, and build new ones. The trouble is that we don’t currently have a proper debate — but rather a lot of nimbies and their opposite, the I don’t care-build-everywhere brigade.

    People put trust in governments, and really believe it when it seems that carefully-worked out policies are emerging post Brexit, regarding farming and wildlife.

    Then, along come a change of Navigational crew at no 10 and 11 , and all the policies are screwed up and chucked in the bin, unless the Country cries loud enough, and the crumpled papers are picked out, and maybe retyped on to new sheets of paper.

    Seriously, where is the credibility ?

    Did I hear someone say …..
    “Trusst me, I’m the new Captain”

  4. Sarah Bird says:

    It would be sensible for several hustings to take place so all the candidates can be questioned by the voters .

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